St. Helens falls to 6A powerhouse Glencoe, but not without a fight

by: JOHN BREWINGTON - Great bunt. St. Helens' Michelle Sass lays down a perfect bunt during Monday's game with Glencoe. She was safe and scored one of St. Helens two runs.There was nothing for the St. Helens Lady Lions to hang their heads about Monday afternoon—they had just taken the No. 1-ranked 6A team in the state into extra innings before losing by a lone run, 3-2.

Top-ranked Glencoe has the best pitcher in the state, senior Katie Sutherland-Finch, and she didn’t disappoint—throwing a no-hitter and fanning 18 St. Helens JOHN BREWINGTON - St. Helens' Mariah Mulcahy may be the state's top 5A pitcher.

The Lady Lions answered her with sophomore Mariah Mulcahy, possibly the best 5A pitcher in the state. Mulcahy struck out 11 batters, and gave up just five hits.

It was battle displayed before a playoff-sized crowd on hand.

Mulcahy struck out the side in the first inning and Glencoe followed with three up and three down, one on a drive to center.

A walk and an error allowed Glencoe to get runners to second and third, but Mulcahy bore down with three more Ks.

“It was probably Mariah’s best game,” St. Helens coach Jeff Edwards said. “I thought we played hard, but mentally we made too many mistakes. It’s tough to sustain that kind of energy for two hours, but it’s very correctable and it happened on both sides.”

The Lions biggest problems came in the top of the third. A single put the lead-off Glencoe batter on base, then the next batter hit to short and the ball got by second base on the throw. It was an error that left two runners on base and no outs. A bunt advanced them and a pop-up to second made it two down. Sutherland-Finch then drilled a shot up the middle to send both runners JOHN BREWINGTON - Glencoe's Katie Sutherland-Finch is regarded as the state's top fastpitch pitcher.

St. Helens found a way to get on the scoreboard in the bottom of the third. Sue Sass would fan at the plate, but the ball was thrown into the dirt. She was safe. That’s a strike-out and an error on the catcher.

Michelle Sass then laid down a perfect bunt right in front of the plate. The ball was thrown far down the right field line, past the fielder, and Sue Sass scored, and Michelle went to third.

Taylor Leal followed with a bunt that was also thrown short at first, allowing the younger Sass to cross the plate.

The Lady Lions would only get one batter to base the rest of the way, that coming on the solo walk by Sutherland-Finch.

The game went into extra innings and Glencoe jumped up with their only run. Macy Besuyen, the lead off batter, was safe on a bunt single. She was sacrificed to second, and moved to third on a passed ball. A sacrifice fly to left allowed her to score, although the throw home was close enough to make her slide. Sutherland-Finch added a double, but was stranded on base.

The Lady Lions were unable to respond, posting two strike-outs and a pop-up to the catcher.

“They were pretty impressive,” Edwards said. “Overall, I’m pleased with the girls. They didn’t back down. Going forward we have to learn from (the loss) and build on it. We didn’t want to get blown out, and it was 2-2 for four innings. Take away a couple of mistakes and we might have won. We’re getting better and that’s what we’re striving for.”

St. Helens moved to 6-2 on the season. They had Wednesday’s home game with Forest Grove, and started league play on Friday at Sherwood.

League foe Sandy is currently ranked third in the Oregon School Activities Association power rankings. Wilsonville is ranked ninth, and Liberty 10th. The Lady Lions host Liberty April 9, travel to Sandy April 12, and host Wilsonville April 16. After that they’ll play Milwaukie, Putnam, and Parkrose, all much lower ranked teams.

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